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GameX: Shaw helps modernize MCA data collection

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Steven Cardo
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Shaw Air Force Base hosted eSports tournament ‘GameX: Mission Generation Under Attack,’ an Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC) initiative designed to test Airman and Guardian decision-making in a contested environment through video gaming, Sept. 22-23, 2023.

AFIMSC collaborated with the MITRE corporation to develop the eSports tournament series as a human-in-the-loop experiment where participants can engage in a fun and fast paced video game environment while collecting data and providing feedback to help guide the Department of Defense in shaping the future of warfighting with Multi-Capable Airman and Agile Combat Employment models, putting the premium on effectiveness in an increasingly challenging threat environment.

“Our series gaming experts emphasize that [GameX] needs to provide good scientific value but it also needs to be entertaining, otherwise we lose the whole premise and the ability to continue getting participants involved,” said Greg Tavarez, GameX project lead and MITRE Shaw AFB principal systems engineer. “It starts with understanding the sponsor's challenge and AFIMSC is geared toward ensuring bases can continue generating missions while under attack, so, [players] are responsible for defending the base and making sure they have enough supply.”

During the tournament, teams of five defended a simulated deployed location from multi-domain attacks while continuing to generate fighter aircraft missions, challenging players to communicate, strategize and make critical mission decisions under pressure.

“It was pretty cool to hear [my teammates] grow into their roles, talking through and identifying threats,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cameron Hickey, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory non-commissioned officer in charge and GameX participant. “Although we felt like we were just playing a game, behind that was a lot of data going toward helping the Air Force make decisions on what a Multi-Capable Airman is going to look like in the future and potentially how the Agile Combat Employment model is going to be employed.”

The GameX developers worked closely with Air Force personnel to better simulate and augment the military roles and operations depicted in the tournament scenario, including the base defense operations center (BDOC).

“I’ve actually worked with the BDOC out in the middle east… and seeing what they see and what they go through gives me a lot more appreciation for what they do and makes me want to do my job even better,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Josef Benton, 117th Air Control Squadron air battle manager with the Georgia Air National Guard and GameX participant. “Actually seeing how much confusion could go on while still launching aircraft, protecting the people over there and taking in all that information at one time… just brought everything into perspective.”

Registration opened for service members to participate in GameX at Sumter, South Carolina; McLean, Virginia; and San Antonio, demonstrating the wider Air Force’s dedication to modernizing how data is collected in order to develop more effective training programs and initiatives, better preparing Airmen to respond to any contingency globally.